Market Stalls, Indexes Hold Near Record Highs

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market’s rally shifted into neutral on Wednesday, and U.S. indexes flipped between very slight gains and losses in early trading. If the Standard & Poor’s 500 ends the day lower, it would be the first loss for the index in seven days.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped by a quarter of a point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,534, as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 22,655, and the Nasdaq composite slipped nearly 6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,525. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks lost nearly 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,510. All four indexes set records on Tuesday.

JOB WATCH: A report from payroll processor ADP said that hiring by private employers weakened sharply last month, a setback for an economy that had been enjoying a generally strengthening job market. But economists and investors were expecting a low number because of the damage done by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hopefully will be only temporary.

The government will release its more comprehensive jobs report on Friday, and economists are also forecasting a weaker number for that.

APPROVED: Mylan surged to the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after federal regulators approved its generic version of Teva’s Copaxone drug for multiple sclerosis. Mylan jumped $5.84, or 18 percent, to $38.37.

OUT OF OFFICE: Office Depot plunged after it said it wants to broaden its business beyond traditional office products and announced a $1 billion purchase of CompuCom Systems, an IT services and products provider. The deal’s value includes the repayment of debt.

Office Depot also cut its forecast for how much operating profit it expects to earn this year. It said the busy hurricane season hurt its results, as did a slower back-to-school shopping season. Shares fell 79 cents, or 17.2 percent, to $3.80.

FED WATCH: Speculation is rising about who the next chair of the Federal Reserve will be, after Janet Yellen’s term ends in February. President Donald Trump has said previously that he may consider Yellen for another term, but other names have been floated in media reports including Kevin Warsh, a former Fed board member.

Under Yellen and her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve has unleashed unprecedented amounts of stimulus for the economy in hopes of recovering from the Great Recession. The central bank is now slowly pulling back the aid, and investors wonder if the next Fed chair may be more aggressive about it.

Yellen is scheduled to speak at a conference Wednesday afternoon in St. Louis.

YIELDS: Prices and yields for Treasurys generally held steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury was flat at 2.33 percent. The two-year yield slipped to 1.47 percent from 1.48 percent late Tuesday, and the 30-year yield ticked up to 2.88 percent from 2.87 percent.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 12 cents to $50.30 per barrel, while Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, fell 12 cents to $55.88 per barrel.

Gold rose $3.20 to $1,277.80 per ounce, silver added a penny to $16.66 per ounce and copper was close to flat at $2.96 per pound.

Natural gas rose 6 cents to $2.96 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil gained a penny to $1.76 per gallon and wholesale gasoline was virtually flat at $1.57 per gallon.

CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 112.84 Japanese yen from 112.90 yen late Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.1750 from $1.1752, and the British pound rose to $1.3265 from $1.3247.

MARKETS ABROAD: In Europe, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.3 percent, Germany’s DAX gained 0.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London slipped 0.1 percent.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.1 percent, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 0.7 percent.

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STAN CHOE ,  AP Business Writer

AP Business Writer Kelvin Chan contributed from Hong Kong.

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